Liam Treadwell, the jockey who achieved an improbable victory aboard a 100-1 shot in the Grand National in 2009, has died. The 34-year-old was found at his Shropshire home on Tuesday morning.
Treadwell’s racing career was closely associated with the trainer Venetia Williams, who gave him the National-winning ride aboard Mon Mome when her principal jockey chose to ride her other runner. “It was the best day of my life, and largely thanks to a fantastic ride from him,” she recalled on Tuesday.
“It was his first ever ride in the Grand National and he executed the plan to perfection. It was an overwhelming day for all of us and it seems like yesterday. Obviously, one would like to remember him as the wonderful jockey and person that he was rather than dwell on the immediate circumstances. He was based with us until the last few years, a lovely guy who’s very much been part of the family here and a smashing jockey to have on your team.”
Tribute was also paid by Treadwell’s weighing-room colleague Tom Scudamore, who said: “He never appreciated how good he was, but his record proves it. He won at the Cheltenham Festival as well as in the National.
“Before he retired the first time, I know Venetia thought the world of him. He had a lot of success there. He rode a lot for my brother, Michael, as well and that’s how I got to know him, he was riding for Michael when I couldn’t. He was third in the National for him on Monbeg Dude. He was a fine bloke, a fine jockey and it’s very, very sad.”
Treadwell took the brave man’s route around the inside of Aintree on Mon Mome during a typically action-packed running of the famous race. “All I can say at this moment in time is, it is unbelievable,” he said in the winner’s enclosure. “A couple of times, loose horses fell upsides me and went under his legs but it didn’t really affect the horse.”
There was some controversy when Clare Balding, fronting the BBC’s coverage that day, called attention to the poor condition of Treadwell’s teeth. That led a dentist to offer to repair them for free, when the bill in normal circumstances would have run into five figures. “It must be one of the kindest things she’s ever said, they’re still gleaming,” Treadwell said last year.
Balding tweeted her own tribute, speaking of “the loveliest guy with a great sense of humour”.
Treadwell sustained a head injury in a fall at Bangor in 2016, which knocked him unconscious for four minutes and left him with headaches, short-term memory loss and problems with concentration. It kept him out of the saddle for six months.
“My family and close friends told me I had changed,” he said last year in an interview with the Telegraph. “They noticed the little things. To me I was still me, but they were saying I’d changed as a person.”
He quit the saddle in 2018, feeling unhappy about the pressure he was putting on himself to compete. But he returned last year, enjoying some success during the latest jump season, and a move to becoming assistant trainer to Alastair Ralph was thought to be working well.
A statement from West Mercia police said: “Earlier this morning, police were called to an address in Billingsley near Bridgnorth following the death of a man in his 30s. The death is currently being treated as unexplained. However at this stage there is believed to be no third-party involvement.”
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